You can now access books, journals, films, maps etc from across Europe via the EU’s online library, Europeana. It’s a great idea but it’s not all plain sailing: web copyright rules are not the same in all EU countries, there are issues about paying for items that are still under copyright and should there be a minimum standard for content? Europeana was launched on 20 November, 2008. It is a multi-lingual online collection of millions of digitised books, journals, films, maps, photographs and music from European museums, libraries, archives and multi-media collections. It is accessible to every citizen with an internet connection. It also preserves the items for future generations.
Europeana’s collection has doubled since its launch and there are now more than 4.6 million items. The aim is to have 10 million digitised objects by 2010 and the European Commission has launched a public consultation about the future challenges, which ends 15 November, to get the views of libraries, rights holders, IT companies and consumer organisation, as well as the European Parliament.
Europeana is a great project, but as ever it needs funding. Although a similar scheme is run in the United States by Google, the European Parliament Culture Committee, who discussed Europeana yesterday, is wary of such commercial involvement. Instead we are hoping for Member State Government help and sponsorship from interested institutions. As far as the scope of Europeana is concerned, the Committee Chair, Doris Pack put it well – we will record works which form the soul of Europe.
I think the soul should be preserved and will play my part in taking this project forward.